Despite securing his fifth win of the season at Oulton Park, Jason Plato has admitted that his hopes of securing the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship have all but come to an end.
The SEAT Sport UK driver had qualified on pole position at the Cheshire venue at the wheel of his diesel-powered Leon and then converted his pole into a comfortable victory in the opening race – making him the first driver this season to win on five occasions.
However, things started to go wrong in race two, despite the 2001 champion maintaining the lead at the start. On the second lap, the misfire issue that plagued the team in the final race of the weekend at Snetterton returned and Plato started to drop down the order before being to pit. Although he returned to the track, five laps had been lost and he failed to be classified.
From 17th on the grid as a result for race three, Plato had to settle for ninth place and although his results over the course of the weekend have moved him ahead of Matt Neal into second place in the standings, the gap to Giovanardi now stands at 44 points with just three race weekends remaining.
With that in mind, Plato admitted that he now feels the title race is at an end, although he vowed to keep fighting through the remaining nine rounds left to run this year.
"We've now got some performance in the Leon TDi," he said. "It's engineered extremely well, the team is doing a great job and we start a race weekend off well - but then these mysterious engine problems intervene and prevent us scoring the points we need. It's very frustrating. We don't know what's causing the misfire, but we have to try and get to the bottom of it.
"The objective for the rest of the year is to win more races; there is nothing else we can do. We're making big progress with the car and we'll be very strong next year, but as far as 2008 is concerned I think it's over.
"Whilst the series is still alive we'll keep on fighting, but I think Vauxhall and Fabrizio are too far ahead."